It is no secret that the economy is in a slump. It is a secret that my family is in one too.
By all appearances we look to be doing well: three beautiful, healthy children, a happy home, two cars, in a nice neighborhood and an amazing school district.But like so many other families, my family is feeling the economic pinch—hard. After three back-to-back pregnancies and the skyrocketing cost of daycare, my spouse and I made the fiscal decision for me to remain home rather than to return to a career that required me to be away long hours and would have our kids in full-time daycare. My husband was working full-time, and we were doing well so it was an easy choice. Then, tragedy struck.
He lost his job in December of last year. “That’s ok,” we told ourselves, “We’ll be fine.” We had some savings, and besides, he could use a break. And I, of course, could use the extra set of hands at home for a month or two.
But then things started to shift in the job market and the intended two-month break became longer than anyone had anticipated, and our savings account dwindled.
Financial stress is no joke. It’s one of the leading causes of divorce for a reason. And now, the impending holidays mean an increase in spending and the pressure to create lasting holiday magic—the weight of it all is enough to break anyone’s spirit. Enter my favorite resource: the Buy Nothing Project.
Buy Nothing first started in Washington State in 2013 and grew organically through small, closed Facebook groups. During the pandemic the Buy Nothing Project really took off. I first joined my local chapter of the group in 2021. Users can either post In Search Of items and request things that they need or want, or members can post items that they no longer need and are looking to give away. Everything is given freely. No strings attached, ever. Not into Facebook? No problem. Buy Nothing launched its own platform where you can download their app and start sharing. Popular gifts are books, baby items, clothing, small appliances, even plants (I received nearly half my garden’s perennials on my local group this year). It keeps trash out of the landfill, recycles perfectly good, usable items and gives them another life in our community.
And now it’s going to save Christmas for my kids.
Through this group I have met so many mothers that I would never have gotten to know otherwise. We have circled the wagons and gifted goods to help refugees new to the area, women starting over after leaving an abusive relationship and mothers who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant and in need of, well, everything. This group has been one of the most gratifying projects I have been a part of. I have passed on so many seasons worth of clothes my children have outgrown as well as toys, furniture, diapers—truly anything you can think of.
The goal of the group is to encourage members to buy less (or nothing) by gifting what you no longer need or want. It is not about being charitable so much as it is about keeping goods out of the landfill, slowing down our wasteful consumerism and most importantly: engaging with your community. The fact that the group is helping people, and changing lives is just a beautiful byproduct.
And now it’s going to save Christmas for my kids. I have started slowly tucking away barely used and sometimes brand-new toys I have been generously gifted through the group so that Santa can make a notable appearance in our home, and my children can have a memorable Christmas without pushing us further into debt.
I highly recommend looking into your local Buy Nothing Project if you have not already done so. If you are of means, it feels so good to give (and to purge!). If you are in need, it is a wonderful way to acquire goods without spending a cent. If your community does not have a chapter, take this as your sign to look into starting one! The benefits go far beyond the free stuff, I promise. As cliché as it sounds, this group has restored in me a sense of belonging that I have not felt in a long time. The impact of having a wide net of support for families, neighborhoods and communities is truly incredible.